Musings of an Aging Lesbian
Kelly and I are writing the herstory of The Women’s Company. At 45, it’s probably the oldest officially organized (meaning with a 501c number) lesbian group in the country. As old lesbians are leaving us and taking the L with them, what will young lesbians (with all of the terms they use today except lesbian) learn about the culture and spaces that lesbians created in centuries before them? Most of that memory is vanishing. Dr. Bonnie Morris’ book asks: “Have lesbians hit their cultural expiration date?” Have we?
Rudyard Kipling said: If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. The snippets of LGBTQ history here are the stories of our lives, the stories of the giants on whose shoulders we all stand. Learn about them then tell the stories and remember…
Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!
Today in LGBT History – OCTOBER 24
44 BC, Italy – The first written reference to same-sex marriage appears when Cicero insults promiscuous Mark Antony whose father Curio “established you in a fix and stable marriage, as if he had given you a stola.” A stola is a traditional garment worn by married Roman women. Cicero’s sexual implications are clear, the point of which is to cast Antony in the submissive role in the relationship and to impugn his manhood.
1679, Sweden – Lisbeth Olsdotter (died November 1679) is charged with abandoning her husband and children, cross-dressing, marrying a woman, bigamy, and homosexuality. She is also charged with theft and fraud related to taking a job as a soldier. She is convicted and sentenced to death.
1926 – The New York Times prints a book review of “The Doctor Looks at Love and Life” by Dr. Joseph Collins. In the chapter on homosexuality, Dr. Collins counters the claim that homosexual love is pathological and that homosexuals are psychopaths or neurotic, saying that he knew many well-balanced homosexuals of both sexes who have distinguished themselves in various fields from arms to the pulpit. He also stated that “Genuine homosexuality is not a vice, it is an endowment.”
1962 – Actor and openly gay dad B. D. Wong (Oct. 24, 1962) is born. He won a Tony for his performance in M. Butterfly and starred in the TV drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Wong began a long-term relationship with talent agent Richie Jackson (born 1966) in 1988. In 2000, the couple had twin sons – Boaz Dov, who died 90 minutes after birth, and Jackson Foo Wong – through a surrogate mother, using Wong’s sperm and an egg donated by Jackson’s sister. In 2003, Wong wrote a memoir about his experiences with surrogacy titled Following Foo: The Electronic Adventures of the Chestnut Man. Wong and Jackson ended their relationship in 2004. Wong amicably co-parents his son with his ex-partner Jackson and Jackson’s partner, Jordan Roth (born November 13, 1975). Jackson is the executive producer of the Showtime series Nurse Jackie. Roth is the President and majority owner of Jujamcyn Theaters where he oversees five Broadway theatres including the St. James, Al Hirschfeld, August Wilson, Eugene O’Neill and Walter Kerr.
1966 – Paul Lynde (June 13, 1926 – January 11, 1982) makes his first appearance on the game show Hollywood Squares. He was an American comedian, voice artist, actor and TV personality. A noted character actor with a distinctively campy and snarky persona that often poked fun at his barely in-the-closet homosexuality, Lynde was well known for his roles as Uncle Arthur on Bewitched and the befuddled father Harry MacAfee in Bye Bye Birdie. He was also the regular “center square” panelist on the show Hollywood Squares from 1968 to 1981, and he voiced two Hanna-Barberaproductions; he was Templeton the gluttonous rat in Charlotte’s Web and The Hooded Claw in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.
1981 – The first National Conference on Lesbian and Gay Aging was held in California. Sponsored by the National Association for Gay and Lesbian Gerontology, it sought to “dispel myths about older lesbians and gay men, advance research, establish programs and services for lesbian and gay elders, and encourage and provide support for lesbian and gay gerontologists.”
1992 – Thirty-five religious leaders in northwest Vermont join to condemn two acts of hate-motivated violence, one anti-gay and one anti-Semitic.
2002 – Pioneering gay activist Harry Hay (April 7, 1912 – October 24, 2002) dies. A founder and architect of the modern gay rights movement in 1950, Hay and four others formed one of the nation’s first gay rights organizations, the Mattachine Society. Hay was a prominent American gay rights activist, communist, labor advocate, and Native American civil rights campaigner. He was a founder of the Mattachine Society, the first sustained gay rights group in the United States, as well as the Radical Faeries, a loosely affiliated gay spiritual movement. As late as 2000 Hay continued to speak out against assimilation, saying, “The assimilationist movement is running us into the ground.” While in hospice care Hay died of lung cancer on October 24, 2002 at age 90. His ashes, mingled with those of his partner John Burnside, were scattered in Nomenus Faerie Sanctuary, Wolf Creek, Oregon
Stand up, speak out, share your story!
(Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including QUIST at facebook.com/quistapp, Back2Stonewall.com, #LavenderEffect, DataLounge.com, #ArronsGayInfo, #AllThingsQueer, #RSLevinson, #AmaraDasWilhelm, out.com, #SafeSchoolsCoalition, and/or Wikipedia. If you wish to edit an item or add an item, please send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!)